Tag Archives: twitter

17 Twitter Recommendations for 2017

It’s three years since I last wrote a list of recommendations for who to follow on Twitter, and since then some have stopped tweeting, some have been promoted, some have even skipped the country – and of course, many new twitter folk have arrived. So I thought it about time for an update. I’ll try to limit myself to just 17.

School Leaders

Stephen Tierney (@LeadingLearner) – when I first heard Stephen speak at a conference up north, I thought instantly that he’s the sort of Headteacher I’d like to work for. Everything I’ve read of his since has confirmed that view. (It helps that’s he’s executive HT of a cross-phase group of academies).

The Primary Head (@theprimaryhead) – another Head for whom I suspect it’s great to work – I presume he’s not anonymous in his own school.

John Tomsett (@johntomsett) – a secondary head, and a voice of calm in an otherwise tumultuous Twitter world.

Jill Berry (@jillberry102) – Jill is a former headteacher who now shares her knowledge about the challenge of the role, and keeps a good eye on other developments in education.

Primary Teachers

Rhoda Wilson (@TemplarWilson) – this is a bit of a cheat, as I’m also married to her, but I do very much follow her on Twitter, and then steal many of her excellent ideas about teaching primary English, including whole-class reading (and often pass them off as my own!)

Sinead Gaffney (@shinpad1) – a hugely knowledgeable expert in literacy, and my go-to person when I need a KS1 expert, even though she’s moved to work with the big kids now.

Jon Brunskill (@jon_brunskill) – the sort of Key Stage 1 teacher who dispels any myths about infant schooling being warm, fuzzy and directionless!

Rachel Rossiter (@rachelrossiter) – a SENCo, which makes her a great port of call for all such queries, but mainly a genius at use of pun – what more can you want from Twitter?

Other Knowledgeable Sorts

Education DataLab (@edudatalab) – data experts from FFT who quickly shed light on topical issues by looking at the data to find answers (including those which are not always welcomed by the DfE, I’m sure). Director @drbeckyallen is also worth a follow.

Jamie Pembroke (@jpembroke) – on the data theme, Jamie is my favourite sort of data expert, in that he recognises the many flaws and limitations of the stuff. His wisdom on sensible use of data is welcome in today’s climate.

Daisy Christodoulou (@daisychristo) – sometimes people refer to me as an expert on assessment; I’m far from it. Daisy is absolutely that: she has spent time thinking about assessment in depth in ways that have completely changed my thinking. Look out for her new book in the spring too.

David Didau (@LearningSpy) – after a brief spell of being banned from Twitter, it was a relief to have David back. A man who speaks confidently about what he understands of education – including honesty about when he’s got things wrong. We could all do with such a balance of knowledge and humility.

Sean Harford (@harfordsean) – few people have done so much to transform the damaged reputation of Ofsted, and Sean has done it largely by thinking and talking common sense. The more people who are following him, the more we can #HelpSean to  spread better messages to schools. It’s probably also worth following new HMCI @amanda_spielman.

Sam Freedman (@samfr) – a director at Teach First who has connections and insights at the highest levels of policy that are often insightful. Tends not to get involved in the nitty-gritty of classroom practice, but expert on how teachers can best get government to work for them!

Micon Metcalfe (@miconm) – the School Business Manager to beat all School Business Managers. Knows pretty much all there is to know about managing  a school, academy, chain or nation – and keeps a watchful eye on news on related matters too.

You can access an easier-to-follow-from full list of the 17 recommendations via my Twitter list: https://twitter.com/MichaelT1979/lists/twitter-recommendations


Getting started with Twitter

Whenever I speak at conferences or Inset sessions, I always drop in a recommendation that teachers and school leaders should sign up to Twitter. Naturally, it’s not the main thrust of my presentation, and so I move on, but I thought it would be useful to have a post to direct people to, with suggestions for getting started.

Because of the work I do, the suggestions are probably more useful for school leaders, but for classroom teachers getting started I’d also recommend Mrs P Teach’s blog on inspirational teachers to follow.

Firstly, some words to reassure:

  • You can register completely anonymously
  • You don’t have to ‘say’ or ‘tweet’ anything if you don’t want
  • It’s nothing like Facebook

The main reason I recommend school leaders in particular to sign up for Twitter, is the ability to keep track of changes in education, which no-one can deny are frequent and rapid. Often now, news of significant changes is available on twitter well before it reaches the usual channels via Local Authorities or even proper press releases. If nothing else, leaders would be wise to have access to the main threads of key organisations.

Below is my guide to getting started in brief, with some key recommendations for individuals and organisations to follow to keep up to speed with the latest changes in education. For each of the main steps I have also provided access to a step-by-step guide for those less confident with technology and those particularly concerned about privacy settings.

Getting Started

The first step is to sign up. It’s dead simple and all you need is an email address. If you’re particularly concerned about anonymity, then you can sign up with an anonymous username and never add a picture, but I’d recommend signing up with your personal details and then protecting your account.

One thing I do suggest is ignoring all the recommendations that Twitter makes for you. It’s too easy to end up following 40 people you’re not interested in and then having to wade through rubbish to find the important details. Instead, once you have signed up and the recommendation lists appear, simply redirect your browser to twitter.com to see your main page. At first it will be be fairly blank, but that’s just how we want it – that way you can choose the content that you want to see rather than just what Twitter thinks you might like!

Download the step-by-step guide to setting up a Twitter account

Securing your privacy

I suspect that a large number of teachers and leaders avoid social media because of the fear of causing an accidental stir somehow, or opening up unwanted communication channels. That’s easily avoided on Twitter by protecting your tweets – even if you don’t intend to post anything ever (and that may well change!). Do this straight away to give yourself some reassurance.

Once you’ve signed in to Twitter, simply click on the egg next to the Tweet button (or on your photo if you’ve added one) and choose the ‘Settings’ option. On that page is a section for Security & Privacy which will allow you to tick the ‘Protect Tweets’ option and look at other options for securing your account.

Download the step-by-step guide to altering Twitter privacy settings.

Following useful streams

To me, the key advantage of twitter is being able to keep up to speed with things that affect my role. To that end, I recommend following the ten accounts I list below to see new information when it first appears. (see the link at the end for the easiest way to follow them all)


Department for Education
The department is actually a very good user of Twitter for publicising new information, consultations, etc. They are also reasonably good at responding to requests for information & clarification.

ofstedtwitOfsted News
Another organisation that is beginning to learn the power of Twitter. The main feed itself provides the key information as frameworks change, but is not yet used for responding to queries very much. For that, see below:

harfordtwitSean Harford
Mr Harford is the recently-appointed National Director for Schools at Ofsted. He is an active user of Twitter and is often seen engaging with discussion & debate about the inspectorate’s work.

myatttwitMary Myatt
Mary is another member of the Ofsted world, this time a practising lead inspector. She offers an honest and open view of inspection from ‘the other side’ and also updates on changing frameworks. Mary also does a good job of re-tweeting useful blogs.

nahttwitNAHT News
The NAHT is a useful source of information for primary school leaders particularly. It also references other blogs and information sources that might be of use, and so is a great starting point.

c2gtwitShena Lewington (Clerk to Governor)

If you’re not already familiar with the www.clerktogovernors.co.uk website, then bookmark it now. Shena is an invaluable mine of information about governance matters of all sorts.

sdtwitSchool Duggery (Education Matters)
This feed does a great job of keeping on top of announcements and changes in education, and holding those in power to some account with accuracy and precision. Well worth following.

bytwitBeyond Levels
In the ever-changing ‘life-after-levels’ landscape, it’s good to have an eye on what’s happening elsewhere in the sector. This account provides links and references to what’s going on in schools nationwide.

ajjtwitAndy Jolley
One of the headaches of school leadership is changes that appear in non-educational areas such as food standards! Andy has done a great job in holding the government to account over UIFSM and provides regular updates on related matters.

michaelt1979twitMichael Tidd
I couldn’t not include myself! If you’re a primary leader with any need for information on curriculum, assessment or on-going changes from the department, I do my best to keep people informed and engaged!


The easiest way to start following all 10 of these people (and to see some other recommendations I’d make), is to access my list at this page. This will present a list of over 20 recommendations, including those above, each with a handy “follow” button next to them to allow you to add them to your account.

So now you’ve no excuse!

The reality sets in (relaxing the privacy)

The chances are, some folk who read this will set up an account and then never access it again. Others will use it to follow and never interact. But I wouldn’t be surprised if a small majority end up hooked and find themselves taking part in conversations, or asking occasional questions. Remember that if your account stays protected then people can’t see your posts or questions, so you may want to choose to relax that in future. My experience has been fine – a few pupils have found my account, one even followed me for a while once. But the reality is expressed well by the conversation I overheard in school as one Y6 child told another of her discovery: “I found Mr Tidd’s page on Twitter… yeah… it’s really boring!”

Primary Roll Call – ‘Leaders & Thinkers’

Last year I wrote a post entitled Primary Tweeters to follow in 2014. They are still good recommendations, but a year is a long time on Twitter – and blogs. Alongside a parallel post by Jo P, I have decided to offer a brief update of some highly recommended twitter users and bloggers for primary teachers to follow. Mrs P’s post (Primary Roll Call – Classroom Ideas) focusses more on the teachers who offer practical and inspirational ideas for the classroom; mine is more about those who work at leadership and strategic levels. Of course, many could easily feature on both lists, so do check out both!

In no particular order, my 10 recommendations are:

Dame Alison Peacock
Alison is headteacher of the Wroxham School – widely known for it’s learning-without-limits approach that saw levels disappear some time ago. She tweets, blogs and speaks with much sense as a headteacher and system leader.

Dr Richard Farrow
Never one to shy away from debate, Rich has a clear vision for what education should be about, and speaks without fear favour on a range of issues across education. He is a Y5 teacher in Stockport and tweets and blogs regularly.

The Primary Head and Old Primary Head
These two are the Batman and Robin, the Dangermouse and Penfold… the Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee of Tweeter, and of the Westcountry one presumes. Both engage on big issues, but also neither are afraid to shy away from the smaller ones. Both are headteachers, and both blog (The Primary Head / Old Primary Head) and tweet (@theprimaryhead / @primaryhead1) frequently with good humour.

Chris Andrew
Chris is a deputy head in London, and notably has begun his Ofsted training this year. He has a well-rounded view of education and is hopefully tackling the behemoth from the inside! He tweets and blogs/re-blogs.

Mr Chadwick
I’m a big fan of Mr Chadwick’s. He talks sense about primary education. In a world where much is too woolly, and where debate too often descends into petty argument, this man presents sensible thought, with reason and calmness. He tweets at @mr_chadwick

Tim Clarke
Another headteacher – this time from Hampshire – who engages regularly online. He has been a great support to me and others in matters relating to the new curriculum, and must be a great head to work for in many ways. He both tweets and blogs.

Tim Head
Maybe Tim’s have a tendency to be decent fellows? This one is a Computing leader in the Midlands – but don’t let any of those things put you off! I’m firmly in the anti-tablet and pro-drywipe board camp, but still this man offers much of interest and debate. He tweets with a shameless profile image.

Bill Lord
Bill is another Head – and another decent one it seems. He is frequently seen engaging with policy and strategy matters, and yet remains keenly interested in the nitty-gritty of teaching literacy and the like. He tweets and blogs.

Rebecca Stacey
Another headteacher – fairly new to it, having moved just slightly from London to Cumbria! She is another who blogs regularly, again on things that matter in the day-to-day classroom both technological and otherwise. She tweets and blogs online.

BONUS PICK – Since Jo got to pick a bonus, I’m going to add someone who doesn’t quite fit into the main category, but is well worth following: Sean Harford is due to taken over from Mike Cladingbowl as National Director for Schools at Ofsted, and so will doubtless be of great interest to many primary folk. He tweets at @HarfordSean

Finally, don’t forget to check out Jo’s post – she also tweets (and pins!) regularly. For other leaders and thinkers, you can take a look at my Twitter list. And of course, follow me!

Primary Tweeters to follow in 2014

I’ve watched the #nurture1314 hashtag go from strength to strength, but it’s not really my sort of thing. However, as my end-of-year-review, I’m finally getting round to following up on @Samfr‘s excellent post on 75 education people you should follow. It was quickly noted when it was published back in early November that there were very few (if any) primary tweeters listed. That wasn’t because of some bias of Sam’s but rather because of the differences between his interests and those of most primary tweeters. I strongly recommend Sam’s list as a starting point for anyone new to Twitter in education.

I’m not going to attempt anything like a list of 75*, and just like Sam’s list, mine will be wholly subjective based on what has interested me during 2013. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, more primary teachers who also use Twitter, but these are the people who have sparked my interest over the last year and whom I recommend to you for 2014 if you’re not already following them. Many also have excellent blogs well worth looking out for. Of course, you should also be following me!

*I had to stop myself at 25, mind!

Primary Blogger – an account set up not long after my plea for more primary bloggers. It re-blogs and then tweets blogs which are primary-linked, and so is an excellent starting point.

Prawnseye – a new twitter account promoting things of interest to primary – may be one to watch in 2014?

Senior Leaders

Alison Peacock – newly damed (who knew that was a word?), headteacher of Wroxham Teaching School (Also tweets as network leader for Cambridge Primary Review @CPRnet)

The Primary Head – a primary head in Bristol, with a great sense of humour as seen in his blog.

Old Primary Head – another Bristol Head – something of a double-act with The Primary Head!

Chris Andrew – a primary deputy who has also begun to tackle Ofsted from the inside!

Bekblayton – another London-based deputy, and creator of Digital Classrooms

Stephen Lockyer – deputy in South East, proud proponent of #goprimary hashtag!

Tracey Griffiths – primary deputy and ‘Future Leader’ from London

Phil Allman – Junior School Head, not afraid of sharing his views.

Betsy Salt & Manwithadog – another pair of primary headteachers in Bristol (what’s with them down there?)

Classroom Teachers

Claire Lotriet – Y6 teacher in London, with plenty of good ideas to share.

Miss Horsfall – brilliantly self-described as “Year 3 wrangler-in-chief”, also in London

Miss Smith – Another London teacher, not afraid to have her say.

Emma Hardy – Infant teacher (god bless ’em all!) and Labour activist, as well as co-organiser of Northern Rocks

Mr Chadwick – Y6 teacher & maths leader in the Westcountry.

Jo Payne – Y4 teacher, organiser of Teachmeet Sussex, and avid Pinterest user.

Amy Harvey – Y6 teacher and curriculum leader

Classroom Truths – soon quick to put me in my place following my call for primary blogs, but adding plenty to the debate too.

The Erasmus Collective – not as odd as the title suggests: infant teacher and mum in East Anglia.

Nancy Gedge – writes particularly on matters affecting SEN

Cherryl KD – another SEN expert who teaches across phases (and who has recently kindly added a hyphen for clarity)

Others with Primary involvement
I should say that many of these are also classroom practitioners either by training, experience, or on-going classroom work, but are perhaps more primarily involved now in other linked fields.

Tim Taylor – Creator of Imaginative Inquiry, teacher, and writer.

Sue Cowley – famed for her teaching books, with a particular interest in Early Years.

Andy Jolley – primary governor, with a close eye on the impending free meals for infants fiasco!

Primary Bloggers rise up

Blog Responses to “The Elephants in the Primary Blogosphere”

(Updated 12 November)

Following my post yesterday, a few primary bloggers have begun to respond on their own blogs, and I’m hoping several more will. Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to collate some of the responses here rather than just though the comments, in the hope that more people see them.

I am not an elephant….I’m a primary school headteacher! (@theprimaryhead)
The Primary Head offers some responses to all of the questions I raised – in brief!

It’s a *mute* point (@philallman1)
Phil’s usual straight talking gets to the nub of why it’s important that teachers take note and take part.

In search of the Primary School blogger… (@educationbear)
Nick Hague considers some of the reasons why blogs might be absent… and then begins to fill the gap!

The Primary Elephant Marches On… (@mr_chadwick)
Following The Primary Head’s lead, Mr Chadwick tackles each issue in brief

Primary Bloggers, where are you? (@cherrylkd)
CherryLKD considers reasons for the dearth of primary bloggers… raises her own call to action

Primary Juggling (@primaryjuggler)
New blogger Primary Juggler explains some of the issues.. and begins her own blogging journey

Thoughts on a hot school lunch (@ajjolley)
A first blog on one of the big issues raised: the manageability (or otherwise) of launching free lunches for all infant school pupils.

Does age really matter? (@AlisonMPeacock)
Alison Peacock points out – importantly – that there is much common ground between the two sectors, and we ought to pay it more heed.

Assessment without Levels (@misshorsfall)
Tackling one of the big issues I raised, misshorsfall raises questions about the future of primary assessment (Like most of us feel: lots of questions, not many answers!)

Education Bear, Nick Hague, has also set up a twitter feed for primary blogs which may be worth watching: https://twitter.com/BloggerPrimary

Transformation Tool… or Talking Shop?

Much has been said on blogs and tweets of late of the transformational power of Twitter. I share the view that it can be an invaluable tool. But we must be careful of expecting too much of it, or overplaying its importance.

There have been good movements to get more teachers on Twitter but the reality is that it’s never going to be widespread enough to have a truly transformational effect. Events like ResearchEd, valuable thought they may be, won’t make much a much of an impact on what happens in 99.9% of the classrooms across the country. We’d be foolish to think it can.

So, in effect, all the time the same few individuals argue about the same matters with increasing ire and certainty, the impact is virtually zero. Nothing is won or lost via Twitter, merely the same debates re-trodden.

What hope then for real change?

It won’t come about through re-posting blogs (even this one, although please feel free, of course), or even by small scale conferences. And it certainly won’t come from endless assaults on one another’s points of view.

The reality is that in some respects no amount of Twitter-quoted evidence will change how teachers teach, and very few will be won over by the on-going polemics and remonstrations that can be witnessed each day!

So what alternative?

Those who campaign (and I may be being generous in some cases here; some of the ‘campaigning’ comes across as little short of bullying) for greater applications of the things we “know” work, need to start working on forms of dissemination of accessible research that might actually start to have an impact more widely.

In some ways, it seems sad that Teachers’ TV and the GTCE came before their time, since the groundswell of activity on Twitter might just have been enough to achieve more in those formats.

What matters now, though, is not how many arguments can be won in endless threads, or how many blogs can be re-posted, but how the important matter of improving teaching can become a more widespread matter of debate and engagement.

Perhaps the TES has a role to play, maybe a new Teaching Council, perhaps some other form of which we are as yet unaware.

But you can be certain that Twitter is not the answer; it does little but raise a more significant question.

I’m not quite like the rest of you…

I’m a middle school teacher by training and trade, and that makes me different. It also makes me part of a rapidly decreasing breed and has always left me feeling a bit separated from other things going on in schools.

I have been a great fan of Twitter this past year or so, and have found it informative, educational and useful in many ways, but increasingly I’m also becoming aware of a further divide between the two sectors of our system: primary and secondary.

The divide manifests itself in many ways. Firstly, I try to keep up to speed with a fair few blogs. I notice that blogs from primary teachers are rarer, but also that they tend to take a different tack. There are far more blogs from primary teachers about displays, or resource ideas, role play areas and the other paraphernalia of the primary classroom. Naturally these have their place, and I am grateful for those teachers who are expert in these areas and from whom I might learn a thing or two. But they’re not the things that get me animated about my profession.

Increasingly, my awareness of secondary teacher blogs is their focus on research (with debate of varying quality), the ‘big issues’ of teacher improvement, observation, use of data and effective leadership. I think these are important issues, but often what applies for a teacher of sixth-form Sociology is less directly relevant to the teacher getting their head round how best to teach column addition.

What concerns me most is the lack of overlap between these two. Not only because as a middle school teacher I am always concerned about the lack of understanding between the two sectors, but also because of the divergence of the profession more generally.

A classic example is this tweet this morning from @johndblake:

I happen to agree. Up to a point. But there is a massive difference between, say, the secondary school RE teacher who has perhaps 400 students to teach each week at various stages of their education career, and the primary school teacher with a class of 24 8-year-olds with whom she spends over 20 hours a week. The data just cannot have the same impact for those two people. The difference between the two sectors is hugely significant in this case, and a lack of understanding between the two can lead to disagreement, argument and too often a lack of respect, without furthering the case on either side.

This is why I worry about the prevalence of secondary teachers both in twitter, blogs and more widely – or rather the dearth of primary colleagues.

I have been reading Hattie’s Visible Learning lately, and while I recognise the value of much of what he says, it is harder for me to translate that thinking into primary practice than it might be if I were considering my GCSE History class. And I don’t see widespread discussion of those ideas among primary teachers as I do our secondary colleagues.

Lastly, let me stress that this is not to argue that primary teachers are not thinking of these big issues; merely that they are not finding their way into national discussions in the way that they seem to be among secondary colleagues.

I have seen several people comment about the need to get more teachers engaged in twitter and its surrounding debate. I couldn’t agree more, and the case is especially strong for recruiting more of our primary colleagues to tackle these issues in the many different ways they affect us.

Ten things I’ve become sure of since being an NQT

It’s been a fair while since I took my first step into a classroom knowing that I would be paid for the pleasure. Over that time I’ve got better at some thing and worse at others. But there are some things that I’ve come to be sure of. No great answers; no real wisdom… just experience.

1. Being a teacher is not like I imagined as a kid

I realise that this is very sad, but when I was young I quite liked playing at being a teacher. I had a little exercise book into which I recorded the register of my imaginary pupils. I set homework (long before I actually had any myself!) and organised my class in rows (despite that never happening in any of my primary classrooms). At that age the things that seemed fun to me were doing the register and telling children off.

When I first got my own class I was still excited about doing the register for real, and about writing reports, being on playground duty, parents’ evening… all the things that made me feel like being a real teacher.

It turns out, the novelty soon wears off!

2. Your reputation can – and should – be cultivated[1]

Every teacher knows deep down that being liked isn’t a sensible aim in teaching. That said, relatively few want specifically to be disliked. It can be a fine balance to strike. In my early years I was probably “liked” more than I am now. It didn’t make me a better teacher, and it didn’t help those first cohorts. I wasn’t weak, or ineffective, but I just wasn’t as effective as I might have been.

The teachers I most admired after my first year – and indeed those that I still do – are the ones whose bark is worse than their bite. I taught a troubled girl in my third or fourth year and had a fantastic relationship with her. But when she left, she told me I was only her second favourite teacher. Number One position went to the woman in Y6 with a dragon-like reputation. It was only then that I noticed that that reputation only extended to those not in her class. She was a dragon in the corridor so that she could be a mother in the classroom. It worked. I’ve never quite mastered that balance, but I’m working on it! (Well, maybe not the mother bit!)

3. First contact with parents matters

If truth be told, I was nervous of parents in my early years. Fearful that perhaps they might catch me out. Reality is not quite like that. Most parents are happy so long as their child is happy. But for those fringe cases, the first contact you have with a parent can be instrumental in making the year go well.

This is something I’ve seen best in others. At the start of an academic year a colleague knew he was receiving a child with a reputation for challenge, and for a challenging parent. He took steps to make contact with that parent before the year even began, to outline transition plans, to discuss how best to meet his needs, and to make arrangements to catch up again in September. The parent was won over before the year even began. It didn’t make the problems go away, but it made it a partnership for dealing with them, rather than a confrontation.

4. Children act how you imply they should

This isn’t true of all behaviour, sadly, but it goes a long way towards it. High expectations breed high standards; I have no doubt of that.

My Y7 cohort have had their assessment week during the same week as the Y6 National Curriculum Tests in a neighbouring corridor of our middle school. In Year 6 they took as few as four tests, and the remainder of the week was a far more relaxed affair. They were rightly rewarded for a year’s effort towards that monumental event. My classes took 8 tests, including longer ones than they had in Y6, and in between they got on with their regular lessons. One child asked if there was going to be a “relaxation” day on Friday. I told them they had the relaxation of RE, English and other lessons. The child responded with a knowing smile, a mock roll of the eyes, and carried on.

I was comforted that my message of hard work was clear. The children knew what was expected of them, and they expected it to continue. There were no complaints, no arguments, no moaning. Just a recognition that they were older, and expectations were higher.

5. All work and no fun…

I hate residential visits. Or at least, I do at this stage: I’m currently organising one that leaves in a few weeks, and starting to organise one for the following year. They’re a nuisance, they demand too much of my time, they exhaust me, and they bring relatively little return to me as an individual. And yet, I wouldn’t stop doing them!

An opportunity to work with children in a completely different environment; to see them meet challenges that are new to them – even if it’s just making their own bed; to engage with them individually on a different level; to form memories that you know will last them a lifetime. Who could turn that opportunity down?

6. Guilt is best got over

I shouldn’t be writing this. I have a residential to organise; I have reports to write; I haven’t yet finalised my Writing assessment levels; I haven’t planned my lessons in detail for next week. The list is endless. It always will be.

But we cannot allow the guilt of the profession to weigh constantly on our minds. Yes, there is always something that needs doing, and even then more that could be done. We are, though, mere mortals. Learning to package the guilt and to set it aside for a few hours is essential for your mental wellbeing.

7. Always think of the effort/benefit ratio

In line with number 6, there are always things you could do to make your teaching just that bit better. But it is important to balance the potential with the effort and energy required. Will making 30 sets of beautifully laminated illustrated problem cards help the children to learn how to multiply any more effectively?

Sometimes primary teachers particularly have a tendency to prettify more than they need. And if that’s the way you like things, then so be it. But be wary of bemoaning a demanding workload for which the only demandant is yourself.

8. Professional Development doesn’t get delivered

Training gets delivered. I could train you in the teaching of Maths, or how to use Moodle, or how to teach phonics (well, not that one, but the point is the same), but that’s just not the same as professional development. That has to come from you.

I went on a series of ‘new teacher’ course as an NQT. I can’t remember a thing I learned from them, but who knows, maybe they were useful at the time. Now, however, very few courses would appeal to me. Sometimes training is important – new software, new models of working, etc. But for real professional development you have to take the lead. The starting point I’d recommend is Twitter. I’m currently reading Daniel Willingham’s “Why don’t students like school?” and I can see already the impact it will have on my teaching. I would never have known about it had it not been for Twitter, and I cannot see a single circumstance in which “training” would have delivered the same benefits.

Don’t wait for someone else to put you on a course: get out there and find what will help you to become a better teacher. Twitter and blogs are an excellent starting point.[2]

9. You will be cast as both hero and villain. You are neither.

In my experience, teachers have a tendency to overemphasise the extremes. Two parental complaints in a year will bring some teachers to the edge of resignation. Two parental compliments can leave them on Cloud 9 for days. As ever, the reality lies somewhere in between.

Of course take note of what is said at either end of the spectrum, for better or worse. Keep the complimentary cards and letters for a lifetime; discard the complaints at the end of the year. For your own benefit, though, let neither have too significant an impact on your life.

10. The holidays are great; don’t try to deny it to detractors

The old “you only work 9 till 3” and “always on holiday” jokes can seem irritating. Sometimes they are. But those who make them generally fall into two camps. One group know all too well what a joke they are making. They are often the long-suffering partners, children or family members of teachers. They make the joke in sympathy. Accept the sympathy.

Others will make the joke through ignorance, and no small amount of argument from you will change their view. I find that in these cases the best responses fall into two camps. Generally I stick with “Yes, it’s great – I don’t understand why more people don’t teach!” In most cases the joker will soon explain their rationale – usually another misunderstanding of the role, but sufficient to demonstrate that they’re not up to the job.

In extreme cases, I reserve the right to use my exceptional response: “Yes, it’s the best job in the world. If only you’d worked harder at school yourself, you could be doing it”




[1] Tom Sherrington (@headguruteacher) writes about teacher reputation in his excellent blog at http://headguruteacher.com/2013/04/09/post-100-12-steps-to-a-great-teacher-reputation/

[2] If you want to start reading far better blogs than this, then you couldn’t do much better than to start by visiting this excellent post by headteacher and blogger John Tomsett (@johntomsett) about edu-blogging: http://johntomsett.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/this-much-i-know-about-edublogging/

For people to follow on Twitter, take a look at these two posts:

75 education people you should follow by Sam Freedman

Primary Tweeters to follow in 2014